House sparrows population in Europe decreases by 247 million | Birds

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There are 247 million fewer sparrows in the house Europe than it was in 1980, and other once ubiquitous bird species have experienced huge declines, according to a new study.

One in six birds – a net loss of 600 million nesting birds in total – has disappeared in less than four decades. Common species disappearing from the sky include yellow wagtail (97m shorter), starlings (75m shorter) and larks (68m shorter).

I study by scientists from the RSPB, BirdLife International and the Czech Society of Ornithology analyzed data for 378 of the 445 bird species native to EU and UK countries, finding that the overall abundance of breeding birds decreased between 17% and 19% between 1980 and 2017.

The total and proportional decline in the number of birds is particularly high among species associated with agricultural land.

The house sparrow was the hardest hit, losing half its population, while its close relative, the tree sparrow, saw 30 million birds fall. Both species have declined due to changing agricultural practices, but house sparrows have also disappeared from many cities for reasons that have not yet been established, but which could include food shortages, diseases such as avian malaria and air pollution.

Long-distance migrants, such as the yellow ballerina, have decreased proportionally more than other groups. Photographer: Andy Hay / RSPB / PA

While agricultural intensification causes habitat loss and the activation of chemical agriculture sharp decline in insects that feeding many birds causes many population declines, long-distance migrants, like silvia and yellow ballerina, fell in proportion more than other groups. Coastal birds such as lapwings and swallows have also collapsed.

“Our study is a wake-up call to the real threat of extinctions and a silent spring,” said Fiona Burns, lead author of the study and senior conservation scientist for the RSPB.

Burns said the meeting next year of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity was instrumental in creating a robust framework for preventing extinctions and recovering the lost abundance of many species.

He added: “We need transformative action across society to tackle the crises of nature and climate together. This means increasing the scope and ambition of nature-friendly agriculture, species protection, sustainable forestry and fishing, and rapidly expanding the network of protected areas. “

While 900 million birds have disappeared in total, 203 of the 378 species studied have increased in number. Sixty-six percent of the additional 340 million birds came from just eight booming species: blackcap, lupine, blackbird, wren, goldfinch, robin, wood pigeon, and blue tit.

The number of 11 raptor species has more than doubled since 1980, including peregrine falcon, marsh harrier, buzzard, white-tailed eagle and golden eagle, although such species are relatively rare and therefore their populations are still mostly small. .

A buzzard landing in a field
Eleven species of birds of prey have more than doubled since 1980, including the buzzard. Photographer: Edo Schmidt / Alamy

Scientists say these birds of prey have benefited from increased protection and reduction of harmful pesticides and persecution, as well as restoration projects of specific species. The Birds Directive and the EU Habitats Directive have also provided legal protection to priority species and habitats that have been found for the benefit of bird species.

Although the decline rates of many species have slowed over the past decade, the declines are not just a consequence of the harmful practices of previous decades, and the study supports previous research revealing substantial recent biodiversity losses.

The extent of the losses and the types of disappearance of the birds are comparable to the declines in North America, where 3 billion missing birds have been found since 1970.

Anna Staneva, interim head of conservation at BirdLife Europe, said: “This report clearly and loudly shows that nature is sounding the alarm. Although the protection of the already rare or endangered birds has led to some successful recoveries, this does not appear to be sufficient to sustain populations of abundant species.

Common birds are becoming less and less common, especially as the spaces they depend on are being wiped out by humans. Nature has been eradicated from our farmland, the sea and the cities. Governments across Europe must set legally binding targets for the restoration of nature. Otherwise the consequences will be serious, even for our own species ».

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